Podcast: Keeping Talent Moving During a Pandemic 06.1.2020 | Laura Levenson

Our thought leaders are always on top of the latest industry trends and use their subject matter expertise throughout our fast paced and growing industry. From speaking at conferences, to hosting roundtables, to contributing to industry publications, our colleagues are frequently called upon around the globe to contribute and help shape conversations around industry hot topics. And we want to share our knowledge with you, in an effort to propel mobility together!

While our industry continues to wait and see what the longer-term implications of the coronavirus pandemic is on mobility, providers explore and implement alternative solutions to meet the needs of relocating families. In our most recent podcast, I had the opportunity to connect with two of our on-the-ground partners to discuss some of the innovative ways to provide home finding and other settling in services to individuals and families all around the world, whether they are returning to their home base, or deploying to a new destination to work.

According to Rob Burns, CEO of IOR, the needed shift to guided virtual support has gone smoothly, and people are responding positively to experiencing a destination services program in two to three-hour blocks.  This approach provides flexibility for scheduling information sessions at more convenient times and allows for time in between conversations for the information to sink in, so that the subsequent virtual meetings are used more productively and efficiently.

With an increased interest in hourly, task-based services, Rob feels that even when social distancing requirements lessen, there will continue to be a demand for more flexible options in the realm of settling in services such as virtual guided tours accompanied by ½ day home finding trips, or phone assistance for “how-to” items such as banking and driver’s license registration. In addition, these activities may now stretch over a month or more, instead of the more traditional five to seven days of sprinting through the details.

While the volume of new moves continues to trickle in, companies like IOR are using this time to study the market and learn. Through tracking activity in the 10 largest cities they support and cross training their employees, IOR continues to innovate and leverage technological solutions that have been in development and use over the past four to five years, and are now at the forefront of service delivery.

Since the pandemic started, across the global mobility management industry, the service emphasis has been on ramping up all forms of communication.

According to Meredith Kennedy, Vice President of Global Account Management at DwellWorks, the company has focused on delivering ongoing communication to everyone involved from assignees to fellow team members to partner RMCs.  The goal is simple: to keep them engaged, up-to-date on local guidelines, and ensure there is a solid understanding of everyone’s comfort level and work capacity.

This ongoing communication continues for the transferee in the middle of service too, where Dwellworks has created market-specific Wellness Guides with information on hospitals, emergency resources, libraries, gyms, churches, etc. with online programming.

Both IOR and DwellWorks share that frequent global leadership meetings are conducted to compare notes and exchange best practices as different parts of the world open up at different stages.  Email announcements and blog posts provide global updates that are shared and distributed through a wide variety of channels.

Now that some states in the US and countries across the globe are shifting their focus on slowly re-opening businesses and services (such as traditional face-to-face relocation support like destination and settling in services), many of our partners are preparing themselves and their customers for a new way of interacting and adjusting to new safety and sanitary standards. When it comes to Global Mobility, we are observing how HR, legal, compliance, and the global supply chain are all working collaboratively to determine how/when to open global offices, to properly clean facilities and provide an adequate starter kit of cleaning supplies, to require medical clearances and temperature checks, to name a few measures already established in many places.

When it comes to innovations, both Rob and Meredith report using technology to conduct “virtually accompanied” property tours and orientations.

Providers are using everything from Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangout to What’sApp and WeChat to connect and guide assignees through tasks remotely by video. They are even able to conduct virtual property tours and property walk throughs with these apps.

At DwellWorks, they’ve given transferees and assignees direct access to the mobile app, so they have a professional way to document property condition and store pictures at move in and move out.  According to Meredith, they have even created a “Sight Unseen Liability Waiver” that is an innovation they will consider adopting long term, as an option for those who need the flexibility.

One thing became clear on the podcast, and was agreed upon by Rob, Meredith and myself: the pandemic has resulted in a heightened interest in hourly, task-based service, that provide high flexibility and customization.  This is unlikely to change post-coronavirus, and opportunities for both companies and customers to pick and choose between guided support, when it’s truly necessary, and virtual assistance when it’s more time-saving and cost efficient, will ultimately result in an enhanced employee experience.

For more insights, listen here to this dynamic discussion:

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Written by Laura Levenson


Laura Levenson is a Practice Leader in Weichert Workforce Mobility’s Advisory Services group. She has worked in management capacities for workforce mobility and Big Four firms, and is well-versed in bringing clarity to the most pressing global talent deployment challenges. She brings over 25 years of experience to her role and is a frequent speaker on the mobility conference circuit.

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